As a felon, the punishment doesn’t end with the completion of your sentence, and neither is jail time the only penalty you will face. Instead, your life takes a 180-degree turn.
While it is true that life after a felony conviction in the US is surrounded by difficulties, it will get better. All you need to do is not lose hope and try to rebuild your life.
Problems Faced After a Felony Conviction
Here are some of the difficulties you will face after you become a registered felon.
Loss of Rights
As a criminal, you get stripped of various rights that you might have taken for granted all your life. After committing a felony, you will not be allowed to vote. Until rights are not reinstated by your governor, you cannot vote in either the local or the state elections.
In the US, owing to its gun laws, any American citizen can equip themselves with guns. However, such a right does not extend to a felon. You can no longer receive, transport, or possess any type of gun or firearms.
Additionally, you will no longer be allowed to hold a public office, and neither would you be able to serve as a judge. While you will face an extreme loss of rights initially if you prove that you are worthy with your conduct, some of them will be restored.
This has to be the worst difficulty faced by felons. Once you get registered as a felon, this information becomes a public record. Also, since almost all places of employment in the US ask their potential employees if they have a record, it is hard and inadvisable to hide your past.
Most employers you will come across will not want to hire a known convict. This is because they are likely to assume you dangerous and unreliable. The fact that good jobs are not available for you means that the quality of your life, especially the one some of you might be used to, will deteriorate.
Housing and Assistance
Yet another necessity that becomes much more challenging to find after a conviction is housing and assistance. Unless you have a house of your own, one of the first things you would want to do after being set free is to look for a rental house. However, most people don’t want to rent out their houses to felons.
While the USA has various programs and resources that aid criminals in rehabilitating, acquiring a house largely remain a problem.
Furthermore, the chances of you getting assistance for education or food also decrease since you won’t qualify for most federal grants and loans.
Unless your crime is considered to be a one-time mistake by your family members and loved ones, the chances are that your relationships are bound to be adversely affected once you get out.
Most family members stay supportive throughout the time their loved ones are in jail. However, as soon as they get out, feelings of support are transformed into anger and disappointment. People might pull away from you, and your marriage might not be the same or if worst comes to worst, it might be irrevocably destroyed. New relationships are just as hard to establish.
As a felon in the US, you might find yourself constrained within the country. This is because most countries have strict laws about not allowing felons into their country.
For example, Canada might not allow you to cross the border until enough time has elapsed and even then, stringent and long procedures will be followed.
What is the Solution?
The question arises, can you ever rebuild your life? Yes, you can. Here are a few steps you can take to reinstate your position in society.
Most problems that arise are because of the fact that your criminal records are out for the public to see. As per the expungement law of the USA, you can get your records sealed.
Whether it is by complying with your sentence or completing the probation period, you must qualify on various aspects before being allowed expungement.
There are various reentry programs in the US, which vary from one state to another. These programs will facilitate you in getting a place to live, a job, and counseling.
For example, in Louisiana, the state’s reentry program provides young inmates with training in a trade, ranging from plumbing to welding. Also, they receive classes on how to effectively manage their anger. Such programs, though they might differ in what they actually do, exist in almost every state.
Now, this might seem like an impossible feat, but job hunting is crucial. After all, how else will you support yourself? Yes, rejections are bound to come your way, but if you look for the correct job, you are more likely to find a source of income for yourself.
Since most convicts learn a lot of mechanical skills when in jail, once you get out, you can put them to good use by going into the field of mechanical engineering. There are open-minded employers out there; you just have to find them.
If you have no luck in doing so, becoming self-employed by being a web designer or other similar jobs can be a great way for you to avoid skeptic employers. Similarly, freelance work, whether it is plumbing or driving, is much likely to be suitable for you.
Life after a felony conviction in the US seems daunting. You lose a lot, and your life pre-and post-conviction will be starkly different. There will be challenges, but remember that this is not the end. The USA has great programs which will assist you in getting back on your feet.
Don’t let the crimes of your past bring down your present and future. Play your role in convincing people that you are worthy of a second chance. Reconstruct your life.